Holiday review 3 - San Francisco - Part 1
I still can’t believe I actually made it to San Francisco.
Because I’m cheap I was flying Norwegian, better known as the long-distance Ryanair.
Before I even start with anything else, let me just quickly illustrate to you the many reasons why Norwegian Air sucks balls.
Before take off a lovely lady informs you via intercom that you will be served two meals. Only when the flight attendants start walking up and down the aisle distributing food and systematically ignoring you, you realise that you were supposed to pre-order your meals (paying extra, of course).
However, the only time you can pre-order your meals is when you are booking your flight. There is no later option for this, so if you (as in, me) forget to do so you will be left with no food.
You can of course buy sandwiches and snacks on the plane, if you’re willing to pay $14 for a stone-cold turkey sub. Which I was not.
You don’t even get a drink unless you have paid for a meal. Not even water. FTW.
In all this, I had a stopover in L.A. where I had to catch my following flight to San Francisco. According to my schedule, I had exactly two hours to do so, which in airport time is not a lot of time. WE LEFT 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES LATE. During all this time sitting on the plane and literally freaking out, all I could think of was the customer service note informing me that Norwegian Air leaves their customers “plenty of time” to catch their coincidence.
I had also recently learned that in L.A. I would have to collect my luggage and check it in again (technically not Norwegian’s fault) as I was flying with a different airline. Add this to having to go through security and answer all the questions about not being a terrorist, which I always have to read at least three times in case you’re supposed to answer no to all of them EXCEPT FOR ONE. I therefore took some time to get mentally prepared to spend the night in LAX.
The film section was very poor (although I did watch Love, Simon which was SO GOOD).
Did I mention they don’t even give you water? On a 10 hour flight??
Finally, my side of the plane happened to be looked after by the most hysterical flight attendant I’ve ever met, who would squeal every time we hit a turbulence and would run around frantically screaming FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT!!!
In all this, at least I had an aisle seat which allowed me to get out and have a walk around any time I wanted.
Also, I made a friend. Sitting next to me was this Mexican dude called Irvin who chatted me up on my way back to the toilet. I was glad to have someone to talk to since I had already devoured the two books I’d bought in London, watched Love, Simon, and my sleeping pills weren’t working. Irvin was super chilled and nice - plus his English wasn’t great so I saw a good chance to brush up on my Spanish (which also wasn’t great at first but I was pleased to see that it came back quite quickly). Irvin and I talked about a bunch of things, including being self-employed and starting a business (he’s launched his own social enterprise, ECOOS), and the fact that we were both on our first solo trip without the respective partners and we were digging it.
After six hours we were besties.
We somehow actually landed on time in spite of leaving late, and security was surprisingly quick (nobody checked my ESTA and my passport was stamped by an officer who didn’t even look at me in the face), however my backpack was THE LAST ONE on the carousel, I had to sprint through six terminals to get to the Alaska Airlines one, where I was THE LAST ONE to check in and THE LAST ONE to board the plane. But I made it. I sat down, passed out, and woke up 50 minutes later in what still felt like a dream.
Wielding a PostIt with my AirB&B address, I took an Uber. By the time I got there it was 10pm and dark. I had never been in this part of town so I was a bit uneasy.
My Uber dropped me in front of a building that looked exactly like the picture provided by the host. I didn’t have a key but had been given a code to punch at the front door. I punched it and the door opened to reveal a construction site on the other side. Think Kevin’s uncle’s house in Home Alone 2. I suspiciously walked down the corridor in search of my room. I had been told the host wouldn’t be home but I would find my key outside my room. I didn’t remember my room number and I couldn’t see a key anywhere. There were two doors with a combination lock where I tried punching the code I had but it wouldn’t work.
I kept going util I saw a back garden and thought maybe I had to walk through there to find my room. The door to the garden was unlocked, so I walked through, got to the garden, and turned around just in time to see the door closing behind me. You guessed it right: it wouldn’t open on this side. I had just locked myself in someone’s back garden. At 10 at night. With no phone reception.
Even though for some reason I had managed to stay calm up to this point, now I started to panic. I had no idea what to do.
I could hear some TV sounds coming from one of the adjacent apartments, so I summoned up the courage to yell, Can someone hear me? I’m looking for the AirB&B! - perfectly aware of how unconvincing I must have sounded. The TV stopped for a moment, my hope rising. But then it quickly resumed. And the panic came back.
I started banging on the door, forcing myself to breathe slowly. It was a nice, warm night after all, and I had all my stuff with me. I could have camped in the garden. But the thought that I had already paid for my AirB&B pushed me to keep on banging.
Finally, I heard someone fumbling with a key on the other side, until an old Asian lady appeared - the host! I was so relieved to see her I almost hugged her. I told her my name and that I was looking for the AirB&B and she told me it was next door. She then escorted me outside and literally to the adjacent house, which looked exactly the same as the one I had entered AND had the same house number. What.
I punched in the code, which worked on this door as well, and almost cried at the sight of a real staircase that led up to a room with a key in the keyhole.
The lady kept on apologising and I kept on apologising and then I went straight to bed without even brushing my teeth and slept like a baby until morning.